British Columbia

Woman injured in firepit incident sues home's residents and City of Burnaby for negligence

A negligence lawsuit involving a woman injured near a firepit goes to civil trial at B.C. Supreme Court days after a tragic firepit death in Terrace.

Residents, who rented from city, claim Alla Abdi put herself at risk at backyard party in 2014

The trial revolves around an accident that allegedly injured a woman at a firepit in a Burnaby backyard. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A negligence lawsuit involving a woman injured near a firepit goes to civil trial Monday at B.C. Supreme Court — days after a tragic firepit death in Terrace, B.C.

Alla Abdi, 27, says she was injured when flames got out of control at a firepit party in Burnaby, B.C., in 2014. She is suing both the City of Burnaby and the couple who rented the home where the alleged incident happened.

The case highlights the inadvertent dangers of backyard fireplaces as summer approaches.

On May 24, 13-year-old Grace Peerless died after her hair caught fire from a backyard firepit in Terrace.

Accelerant allegedly added

Abdi alleges she was injured while sitting around a firepit at the home of Peter and Roberta Bottomley on May 14, 2014, after accelerant was added to the flagging fire. She says the injuries left her physically and emotionally scarred.

The City of Burnaby — which rented the home to the Bottomleys — denies Abdi's claims.

Court documents say the Bottomleys only had permission to raise garden beds and build a swing set, not to construct a gravel area with a firepit. The city did not permit or allow an open firepit on the property.

The city alleges that the Bottomleys were negligent for not complying with bylaws and the terms of their rental agreement.

'Dangerous and reckless'

In a court-filed response, the Bottomleys also denied Abdi's claims.

Their response describes how Abdi sat around the fire where accelerant was used at least two other times and didn't move.

The Bottomleys say Abdi was injured because she "failed to care for her own safety" by participating in wanting to start a fire and using accelerant when she ought to have known this was "dangerous and reckless."

Court documents say she failed to keep proper lookout.

Court documents allege that her injuries were due to pre-existing medical issues, not from the incident with the firepit.

None of the facts have been proven in court.

Abdi's lawsuit alleges that after the incident, the city ordered the Bottomleys to remove the firepit and restore the area to its former condition.

The couple were investigated but not charged.


Yvette Brend

CBC journalist

Yvette Brend works in Vancouver on all CBC platforms. Her investigative work has spanned floods, fires, cryptocurrency deaths, police shootings and infection control in hospitals. “My husband came home a stranger,” an intimate look at PTSD, won CBC's first Jack Webster City Mike Award (2017). Got a tip?